When it comes to baseball for adults, the National Adult Baseball Association really is in a league of its own. From now-grown-up childhood teeballers to former collegiate baseball stars–and even 75-year-olds who can’t imagine hanging up their cleats yet–the NABA has a place for you.
The Story Of The NABA And Its President
The NABA started in the late eighties in San Diego and launched nationally in 1992. It was the first national organization for recreational adult baseball in the United States. There are now three large national organizations, and the NABA remains one of the fastest-growing adult leagues.
The NABA hosts approximately 30,000 adults on the baseball diamond each week. This equates to roughly 1600 teams spread throughout 78-90 adult baseball leagues.
In addition to its regular adult recreational baseball leagues, the NABA hosts 15 tournaments across the nation each year. The Phoenix World Series is arguably the NABA’s most popular tournament.
Managing all this smoothly requires someone more akin to a choreographer than a baseball player, but the NABA president, Shane Fugita, is a baseballer through and through. After all, it isn’t easy to be successful in an organization without having a passion for it, and Shane has a passion for baseball in spades.
Shane started playing baseball as a kid and continued until graduating college. After a few years in the corporate world, Shane returned to playing baseball and eventually took the helm at the NABA. He’s been running the organization out of Denver for nearly 30 years. He also coaches high school baseball.
What Types Of Adult Baseball Leagues Does The NABA Offer
If you’re an adult who still wants to play baseball, the NABA has a division that can accommodate you. The largest of the NABA’s divisions is its age 18+ division, which comprises 60-65 percent of the NABA’s players. Depending on your age, you can also opt for divisions that include ages 25+, 35+, 45+, 50+, 55+, 60+, and 65+. The NABA is looking to add a 70+ age division as well.
In addition, the divisions can be further broken down by skill and experience level as follows:
- AAA: the most advanced and competitive division and is reserved for baseball players with past collegiate or professional experience or the equivalent
- AA: the intermediate division is for players with a moderate to high skill set equivalent to past high school or college baseball experience
- A: the NABA’s recreational division is open to all players, regardless of experience, or, as the NABA describes, is “for players whose love of the game perhaps exceeds their levels of experience.”
Who Can Play In The NABA
The NABA is open to every skill set, from complete beginners to ex-pro athletes. And while the organization doesn’t have women’s leagues or specific co-ed divisions, it is welcoming to women players. Shane estimates women comprise about 5 percent of the NABA’s players.
Shane says of the women players, “Quite frankly, they’re the most focused individuals on the field. The male figures really look up to them and cherish the fact that they’re out there competing.” He continues, “Sometimes they’re better than many of the men on the field. And even if they’re not, they’re still cherished because they’re looked at in amazement because they come out and try to play.”
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If there’s one thing Shane is adamant about, it’s that his organization is inclusive of every adult who wants to play baseball.
“My mentality is that we should be thankful and happy that we can still play the game. We have to appreciate the opportunity,” says Shane. “We should be thinking and looking at this as a privilege to get to be able to still play, especially as we grow older. That’s why I really appreciate the ones who haven’t played, and they come out because it takes guts to do it.”
Year-Round Adult Baseball Tournaments
The NABA tournaments are a popular draw for adult baseball players around the nation. Some are regular players on the NABA’s-sanctioned teams. Others just stick to the tournament circuit. And there are plenty to choose from. Some even offer prize money.
The NABA offers tournaments in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada, and New Jersey, making them accessible no matter where you live. The Phoenix World Series, as noted earlier, is the biggest and most popular adult baseball tournament nationwide.
The Phoenix World Series covers every age and skill division and also includes a Father/Son/Daughter Wood Division. We featured a NABA athlete last year who hopes to play in this year’s tournament with his father, brothers, and sons–all on one team. Adults Play Sports is certainly rooting for that to happen.
Shane also points out that a couple of the NABA tournaments have specially adapted rules to accommodate less-skilled or older players who might not have the stamina they did in their twenties. These include the Las Vegas and the Spring Training tournaments.
Ready To Find A NABA Team Or League To Join?
Shane summarizes the NABA with the following comment, “The NABA is more than about competing. [It’s about] getting away from the cares and the worries of the world and allowing [players] to spend three hours of their day melting away in the sun and the green grass and seeing the privilege they have to still be able to come out and do what they do.”